Surrounded by low-lying hills, Opuwo, which means ‘the end’ in Herero, is a small and uninspiring town in the middle of the bush, 235 km from Khorixas and 290 km from Oshakati. The town grew into a permanent settlement and administrative centre for the region during the bush war prior to independence, when the South Africa Defence Force used it as a base from which to launch expeditions into the surrounding area. There’s an excellent new smart lodge here for tourists passing through to the more isolated, attractive spots in the region.
Opuwo’s name is indeed appropriate as it is both the first and last place offering supplies, fuel, banks, accommodation and telecommunications in the region. Along or just off the main street are petrol stations, a few other shops, post office, an information centre and the town’s bars. The residential areas are a few streets of bungalows built during the bush war for army and government personnel; these now house government officials and the few business people in the area. Not far away are the Himba and Herero settlements and their beehive huts surround the town.
Driving out of Opuwo can be a bit confusing. The C41 will take you 60 km east to the C35 (the main road heading north), on a good gravel road; turn right out of the Shell garage and immediately left past the BP garage, sports stadium and airfield. The C43 to Okongwati is also a good gravel road. The shortest route to Hartmann’s Valley is via the D3703 through the Steilrand Mountains, but this involves negotiating Van Zyl’s Pass, very much 4WD only .
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